Yes, medical malpractice can sometimes cause cerebral palsy. Sadly, a doctor’s negligence can sometimes be the cause of severe and irreparable harm. If you believe a doctor’s negligence during birth caused a loved one to develop cerebral palsy, you may have a cerebral palsy malpractice case. 

Medical Malpractice Cause Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a disabling condition that affects a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. It is often caused by a brain injury during childbirth, causing a lack of oxygen to the brain. 

What Is Cerebral Palsy Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, hospital, or other healthcare professional negligently causes injury to a patient. Unfortunately, when this medical negligence occurs during the birthing process, it can lead to permanent and severe birth injuries to newborns. For instance, brain damage caused during birth can lead to cerebral palsy. 

Cerebral Palsy Caused by Medical Malpractice

There is no one-size-fits-all cause for cerebral palsy medical malpractice. Cerebral palsy malpractice relating to pregnancy and childbirth generally occurs prenatally, during delivery, or shortly after birth. It can be caused, however, under many different circumstances, such as: 

  • Failure to diagnose maternal health conditions. If certain medical conditions, illnesses, or infections go undiagnosed and untreated, they can directly impact the unborn child, leading to brain damage and cerebral palsy.
  • Injury during delivery. Improper monitoring and care during delivery can lead to a lack of oxygen for the child and possibly cerebral palsy. For instance, if an issue with the umbilical cord goes undetected and unremedied, then the baby’s oxygen could be cut off.
  • Lack of newborn care and treatment. If a condition goes untreated in the newborn shortly after birth, it can lead to brain damage. For example, untreated meningitis can lead to cerebral palsy. 

Specific examples of doctor or healthcare errors during pregnancy and birth that may be considered cerebral palsy medical malpractice include:

  • Failure to detect maternal infections,
  • Failure to treat maternal infections,
  • Failure to detect problems with the umbilical cord,
  • Failure to detect and remedy fetal distress (e.g., lack of oxygen),
  • Improper or negligent use of tools such as forceps or vacuum extractors during the delivery,
  • Excessively pulling on the newborn’s body to force delivery, and 
  • Failing to perform a necessary or emergency cesarean section (c-section).

This list is not exhaustive but rather just common examples of physician errors that can lead to newborn brain damage and cerebral palsy. If you believe something else entirely may have caused your child’s cerebral palsy, it still may be medical malpractice. Contact our experienced attorneys for a case evaluation. 

Symptoms and Effects of Cerebral Palsy

The brain damage caused before, during, or just after birth can significantly affect a child’s physical and mental abilities for the remainder of their life. 

There are several types of cerebral palsy, which vary based on the location of the brain damage, and which often exhibit various symptoms. 

Some common symptoms of cerebral palsy caused by medical malpractice include:

  • Delays in motor skill development;
  • Arched back while crying;
  • High-pitched crying;
  • Difficulty latching, eating, and swallowing;
  • Speech delay;
  • Clumsiness;
  • Poor muscle tone;
  • Stiff muscles;
  • Difficulty walking;
  • Excessive drooling;
  • Sleepiness; and
  • Seizures.

Individuals with cerebral palsy often exhibit intellectual disabilities and developmental delays. They may also suffer from other conditions, such as autism, epilepsy, ADHD, deafness, and other potentially debilitating conditions.

How to Prove a Cerebral Palsy Medical Malpractice Case

Like most medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff’s cause of action or basis for the claim relies on the theory that the doctor was negligent in the actions they took while providing medical services. However, unlike many medical malpractice claims in which the injured victim files their lawsuit, in most cerebral palsy cases, the parents will file the claim on behalf of their injured child. 

In order to be successful, a medical malpractice plaintiff must prove:

  • That she was a doctor’s patient and was under their care;
  • That doctor was negligent during the child’s birth and that their negligence directly caused the child’s injury and harm; and
  • That the damages suffered are due to the injury inflicted by the doctor.

Damages you may have experienced from a doctor’s medical malpractice and cerebral palsy diagnosis include:

  • Medical expenses,
  • Cost of future medical care,
  • Necessary medical equipment,
  • Home modifications,
  • Cost of health aides,
  • Pain and suffering,
  • Loss of enjoyment of life, and
  • Mental anguish.

Cerebral palsy is a lifelong diagnosis requiring extensive care and accommodations. Accurately anticipating and calculating damages is crucial to getting the compensation you and your family deserve.

New Jersey Cerebral Palsy Medical Malpractice Lawyers

At O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, we have dedicated a substantial part of our practice to helping victims of medical malpractice, and we have a stellar record of success routinely obtaining multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements for our clients. Our team of experienced and knowledgeable attorneys is here to help you through this difficult time. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case and to learn what our firm can do for you.

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